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Despite slight decreases, food prices remain well above the five-year average

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Tanzania
  • April 2013
Despite slight decreases, food prices remain well above the five-year average

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Food prices across the country have started decreasing but have yet to bring relief to market-dependent households. Persistent high food prices and below normal Vuli harvests in some of the bimodal and central marginal areas will likely lead to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity outcomes until Msimu harvests from unimodal areas start reaching markets in May.

    • Rainfall in the central areas has started receding. Early cessation combined with moisture stress to maize crops due to the effects of the February dry spell in these central areas will likely result in reduced Msimu harvests. 

    • Livestock conditions across the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas are good and milk availability is providing cash and dietary diversity among livestock dependent households. This is attributed to pasture improvement and water point replenishment following rains in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Tanga, Shinyanga and parts of Tabora. These conditions are expected to continue until June/July when pasture and water starts drying up. 





    • Since July 2012, high staple food prices across the country are limiting food access for market-dependent households.
    • Prices will likely remain above the five-year average until April/May when the Msimu greens are expected to start in most of the unimodal areas.

    Kagera Banana  and Cassava Growing areas

    • The prevalence and spread of banana bacterial wilt (BXW) and cassava diseases(Cassava Mosaic Virus Disease and Cassava Brown streak Disease) has continued to reduce the availability of bananas and cassava both as a staple food and cash crop, resulting in increasing demand for non-local food supplies.
    • Food security will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) following the below normal September to December Vuli rains that have significantly reduced the availability of alternative food at market and household levels, as well as cash incomes from crop sales.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    National: The lean season is coming to an end in the unimodal areas and the availability of green foods from the ongoing Msimu season has increased. Rains currently being received in the bimodal areas have facilitated the planting of Masika crops and ongoing farm activities are providing cash to labor dependent households. Food prices across the country have stabilized in some markets and decreased in others. Despite decreasing prices observed in many markets, food prices still remain well above the five-year average. Maize retail prices are 90-108 percent above the five-year average. Rice prices have maintained a decreasing trend and are 28-45 percent above the five-year average, following the release of some crops in order for households to get cash for ongoing farm activities. Prices for beans, the major source of protein for middle and low income households, have continued decreasing and thus providing an alternative source of protein.  Decreasing demand following the start of green harvests in the unimodal areas are likely to be the causes of current food price decreases. Due to inadequate Vuli production in some of the bimodal areas and poor production in the previous bimodal-to-unimodal transition and central marginal areas, poor market-dependent households across the country will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through May when  harvests from unimodal areas becomes available.

    Ongoing rains are currently providing the much needed moisture for crop growth in the unimodal areas of northwest (Kigoma and Tabora), the southern coast (Lindi and Mtwara), and the southern highlands (Mbeya Njombe, Iringa, Rukwa, Mpanda, and Ruvuma) and crops are in the late vegetative and maturing stages. The dry spell experienced in February induced moisture stress to maize in some of the central marginal areas and early reports indicate that rains in some parts of Dodoma and Singida has started to recede. Over these areas rainfall is forecasted to be normal to below normal. Lower rainfall amounts and an early cessation will likely result in reduced harvests in these areas. Ongoing agricultural activities in the rest of the unimodal areas will likely continue to provide casual labor opportunities to labor dependent households which will improve their purchasing power.

    This outlook would change significantly if Msimu and Masika rains stop early in the central region, southern highland areas, and bimodal areas. The early cessation of rains across these areas would result in significant crop production reduction which may result in unseasonably high food prices across the country during a period when prices are normally low.

    Bimodal areas: The March-June rainfall is ongoing across the bimodal areas. These rains normally are being used to grow cereals in the lowland areas and perennial crops including bananas, coffee, and fruit crops are grown on the highland areas. However the season has been forecasted to be normal to below normal in most of these areas that might not provide adequate relief of food supplies to households that experienced below normal September-December crop harvests. Since the second week of April these areas are reported to be receiving heavy rains that have provided a good start of the season.

    Banana-growing areas of Kagera region: Banana bacterial wilt (BXW), cassava mosaic virus disease (CMD), and cassava brown streak disease (CMD) have significantly affected the production and availability of bananas and cassava (the main staple). Households in the affected areas are highly dependent on market purchases for these specific food supplies. As a result, income from the sale of banana and cassava has also been reduced. Cash from bean sales are also reduced following poor bean production in these areas between September and December. Households in the affected areas will remain Stressed (IPC phase 2) until May when sizable food price decreases will be realized once Msimu harvests become available for consumption.  Ongoing good rains in these areas are providing prospects for early recovery following the availability of sweet potatoes and on farm labor opportunities.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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